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What is Slim Hole drilling?

In the oil and gas industry, a Slim hole well is a type of oil or gas well whose borehole size is significantly smaller than the usual borehole size. It is generally less than 6 inches in diameter or less.

The concept of small-diameter drilling finds its roots in the observed correlation between the cost of wells and the volume of extracted rock. If you can extract less rock and use less bulky equipment, the costs of the well should decrease.

A first type of small diameter drilling consists of using a conventional oil drill with smaller rods (< 6po instead of 8 or 13in, i.e.). Which is simply to reduce the size of the hole.

A second type can be used to lower costs for exploration drilling to locate the presence of hydrocarbon resources.  It relies in part the technologies used for exploration drilling in the hard rock mining industry.  The mining drilling rig is in that case equipped with all systems for drilling mud recirculation, real-time monitoring and conventional petroleum safety control. The overall equipment having a lesser size, its impact on the ground is less while being able to perform all the tasks required safelyand in the rules of art. The only notable difference is that the rotation of the rod train is faster than for conventional drilling operations for oil wells.

Resources and energy Squatex Inc. has always sought to innovate and use Quebec know-how to carry out its projects. The first tests for the local development of this method were carried out in the field by Squatex in 2012 for the drilling of Sayabec No. 1, near the village of the same name, then in 2014 for the drilling of Massé No. 2 in the municipality of Ste-Jeanne d’Arc.

It should be noted that this type of small-diameter drilling is only suitable for the exploration of conventional reservoirs, and in no way allows the hydraulic fracturing needed for the exploration of shale gas.

Why do we find that small diameter drilling is part of the solution for a responsible exploration of oil and natural gas in Québec?

Firstly, this allows for savings in the exploration phase: For the same price as a conventional oil drilling, 2 to 3 boreholes of small diameter can be carried and therefore we have the possibility to better delimit the reservoir.

Then, a small-diameter hole that can be drilled with an overall equipment that is reduced in size necessarily has a reduced environmental footprint. Know that a conventional oil drilling with all its other installations occupies in the field an area of 120m by 120m (i.e. 14 400m2). A small diameter drilling rig can be positioned inside a 40m by 40m square (1600m2), which represents 9 times less floor space than for the conventional drilling. This reduced footprint also results in a marked decrease in all aspects related to nuisance for the local community (noise, trucking, etc.) and also, even the amount of water used is less.

Ultimately, the use of small-diameter drilling for hydrocarbon exploration is a safe option that is economically beneficial and more environmentally friendly than traditional methods usually used for oil and gas drilling. 

Finally, small-diameter drilling mobilizes part of the legacy of a local know-how, which is what makes us proud.

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